I cautiously approached the top of the dam looking for signs warning me to turn around or not to enter, but I couldn’t find any. A few seconds later I was driving across the top of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kentucky Dam. At the other end I found a curving bridge descending to a parking lot and a completely unexpected visitor center.
The Kentucky Dam Visitor Center was pretty amazing to explore even though it takes only a few minutes. Being the nerd that I am I was most amazed by the large touch screen television featuring the entire Tennessee Valley Authority system, including all the reservoirs, lakes, dams, and locks. I spent nearly half an hour scouring the map mostly because I wanted to see how many I had already visited (there are 48 TVA dams and I’ve already visited 22 of them).
There was a nice gentleman at the visitor center with a wealth of knowledge from working at various dams most of his career. He was happy to answer questions and point out things I had never considered before like the fact the Tennessee River drops in elevation several hundred feet from Boone Lake to the Ohio River.
The visitor center included a few maps of the TVA system, information on hydroelectricity, and a nice balcony overlooking the river below the dam. One wall was entirely glass and at first I thought it was displaying a mock control room until I saw people working inside! It’s the actual control room for the dam and offered a peak into the controls, computers, and gauges needed to keep the water flowing and power generating.
The parking lot at the visitor center has room for lots of cars, a few benches along the high river bank, and plenty of large shady trees for a family picnic. It was a nice diversion from my road trip across the country and gave me a wonderful place to enjoy lunch and a nap.